Whose responsibility is it to pay for a structure that protects everyone and ensures a sustainable social care system?

01 February 2021

Social Care: The Cost Of Care

Whose responsibility is it to pay for a structure that protects everyone and ensures a sustainable social care system?

Social care is the support given to help people of all age groups who require care support that is not clinical but necessary for them to lead an independent, safe lifestyle within their limitations. The requirements for a safe and professional social care sector will increase as the older population increases and needs care provision. Governments tell us that they continue to pump increasing amounts of public funding into social care whilst local authorities continue to report that it is insufficient.
Both residential and home care providers continually advise that the funding they receive from local authorities does not pay the actual cost of providing care in either sector. The shortage of social care staff is blamed on the low wages that the social care sector offers. The specifications required for both care homes and care agencies to adhere to have cost consequences which often cannot be funded from income. In both areas of care provision, the majority of care providers are small to medium-sized businesses situated in a city, urban, rural, and remote locations each of which has an impact on costs of operation. There is no one cost fits all.

It is difficult, therefore, to have a one cost fits all social care package.

The NHS does have a one cost fits all financial package.

Our National Insurance Contributions to the NHS means that we can have a broken arm fixed or two major hip operations and our financial contribution will stay the same. As a care provider of 41 years, I have seen successive governments tell us how they are going to solve the social care dilemma. Many reports over the years offering the same, but nothing gets to the root of the problem of how to pay for a sensible, safe and available to all, social care sector which is genuinely costed, effective and one of which we can be proud. There is one answer, and that is to fund social care as the NHS is funded.

Everyone who pays tax contributes, and everyone who needs the support receives it.Covid-19 has shown once again that social care has importance in differing areas of support. Simple domestic need such as ensuring that older and disabled people can have food purchased, delivered and prepared, personal care support and in a time of shielding and isolation, contact with other people. These three types of home care support lessen the need in so many cases for NHS support at a time when the NHS is under severe pressure. When the pandemic has passed, social care will continue to support the NHS as reliable, professional and safe home care delivery reduces the number of people who will require hospitalization.

Prevarication on how social care should be funded has gone on long enough. 

The Government should take ownership of the problem now and fund social care by the tax system. Not to do so will mean neglect for older and disabled people and soon reduce the number of care support businesses available to provide services.

Angela Gifford, Able Community Care. Trusted Live-in Care since 1980.